Cord’s Moses Wetang’ula led a sustained campaign in the Bungoma senate seat by-election that portrayed Mr Musikari Kombo as the Jubilee coalition’s candidate.
Mr Wetang’ula, a candidate for Ford Kenya, which is part of the Cord coalition, was re-elected senator with 149,458 votes against Mr Kombo’s 81,016. Mr Kombo who ran on a New Ford Kenya ticket under the Amani coalition led by UDF’s Musalia Mudavadi.
The labelling of Mr Kombo as a Jubilee man and the close proximity of his home to that of Bungoma governor Ken Lusaka conspired against the New Ford Kenya candidate despite his spirited and well-oiled campaign.
Political analyst David Makali, who ran as an independent candidate, was third with 2,155 votes, while former Bumula MP Bifwoli Wakoli of Labour Party was last with 1,899 votes.
Political analysts say a calculated campaign by Mr Wetang’ula to depict Mr Kombo as the Jubilee government project in an area that is yet to embrace the UhuRuto coalition made the electorate to reject him.
Kakamega senator Boni Khalwale, who was Mr Wetang’ula’s chief campaigner, shared the perception.
“Mr Wetung’ula’s victory is a clear indication that the Luyia nation, and western region in general, has awoken to the reality of uniting and building a strong political bloc,” he told Saturday Nation Friday.
“Mr Kombo only received many votes in Mount Elgon, where the Jubilee government enjoys support as compared to other parts of the county,” Dr Khalwale said.
In addition, the Wetang’ula camp persuaded voters that it would be unfair for Mr Kombo to be given the senatorial seat when he came from Webuye, which neighbours Kimilili, the home area of governor Lusaka.
“Other areas would have been disadvantaged,” Mr John Wafula, a voter, said. He added that the Bungoma voters see a future in Mr Wetang’ula, one of the three principals of the Cord coalition and Senate minority leader.
However, Mr Wetang’ula’s supporters believe violence blamed on their leader was a major challenge to their campaign. “This almost spoiled the party for Wetang’ula,” Dr Khalwale said.
Shortly after the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) announced him the winner, Mr Wetang’ula said the people’s verdict was a protest vote against the government.
“Jubilee spent millions of shillings to oil Kombo’s campaign machinery, but people refused to play to that tune,” the senator-elect said.
Dr Khalwale pointed out that the Cord victory was a defeat for former Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi, who threw his weight behind Mr Kombo.
Analysts also attribute Mr Kombo’s loss to Mr Mudavadi’s diminished clout after heavyweights like Dr Khalwale abandoned him, leaving him like a king walking alone.
“People will start regarding Mudavadi differently following his failure to deliver in the by-election,” Dr Khalwale said.
According to him, Mr Mudavadi must now hang his boots and support former speaker Kenneth Marende, whose political star looks a bit brighter.
“Both Mudavadi and Wamalwa have their reputation damaged beyond repair,” he said.
He added that the region needs a game-changer and reformer to prompt economic development. “We have been sidelined by successive governments, and it is high time we changed our approach to political prosperity,” Dr Khalwale said.
But insisting that the by-election was not free and fair, Mr Mudavadi’s spokesman Kibisu Kabatesi said: “The Bungoma case is a classic case that the election system does not favour moralists, those wanting to introduce clean decent politics. They are manipulated, stolen. That is how Kombo lost.”
Mr Wetang’ula’s win reinforces former Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s hold on a region that has supported him since 2007 and places the senator-elect ahead in the contest for supremacy in the former Western province.
The Thursday by-election was held after the High Court nullified the election of Mr Wetang’ula in September.nation.co.ke